Underlying Factors That Contribute To Autoimmune Conditions
When your gut and your digestion are working properly, your body will automatically be able to boost and support your health, which will improve your immunity to infections.
Did you know that 60-80% of your immune system is located in your gut? Improving your digestive function is a good first step towards reducing the symptoms of inflammation that underlie an autoimmune condition.
But how do you improve your digestive function?
Lifestyle and environment are an important factor here. A relaxing lifestyle promotes good digestion and a stressful lifestyle with a stressful environment promotes non-digestion. So first, we want to improve the function of the part of your nervous system that supports relaxation, this is called your Parasympathetic Nervous System. (I don’t mean to scare you with large, scientific names, so let’s look at it another way).
Activities like yoga, meditation or a slow, enjoyable walk, are parasympathetic oriented and nurturing to your body, (mind and spirit too). They let your body know that it is safe, and it can now allow blood to flow to your internal organs where food digestion takes place.
On the other hand, if your nervous system is experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety, either from the outside world or from your thinking mind, your body knows it might need to run, fight or hide. This is no time to send blood to your internal organs, this is a time when your outer body and extremities need the blood flow to support and protect you while you run, fight or hide. This would be an example of stimulation to your Sympathetic Nervous System, and when it takes over, digestion is no longer a priority, in fact, it could be a detriment to your survival.
So, you can see that relaxation becomes imperative for good digestion and gut function.
And if you’re truly relaxed, you would automatically find that you would chew your food more slowly and completely. This ultimately prepares your food for improved digestion which begins in your mouth and your stomach. From here, if your mouth and stomach process food correctly, the rest of your digestive tract will receive the proper messages that will automatically trigger the rest of your digestion to function properly.
When this doesn’t happen, you get stomach aches and improper or poor digestion. So although this probably won’t fix your digestive problem, if you already have an autoimmune condition, it is an important place to start, as lifestyle and environment make a huge difference in our overall health and well-being.
How else can I improve my digestion?
Drink plenty of water... in between meals, not a lot during your meal. I don’t mean any water during your meal, I just mean, not a lot. I used to drink a lot of water with my meals and ended up with a stomach ache. I discovered I was diluting my stomach HCL (hydrochloric acid) too much and maybe my digestive enzymes, and it was giving me a stomach ache. So when I stopped drinking so much water with my meals, my stomach pain subsided. (This took me a long time to learn, so trust me on this one).
Drinking water when thirsty in between meals will promote a healthy transit time for your food from your mouth to the toilet, and it will help clear out your colon (large intestine).
How do I evaluate my transit time? Is it to Fast or to Slow?
If you are having loose/unformed stools, particularly with undigested food in them, your transit time is likely too fast.
If you are not having 1-3 bowel movements daily and experience a hard stool, then your transit time is likely too slow.
And, of course, your diet makes a difference!
Inflammatory or toxic foods will irritate your digestive system and feed the bad bugs that reside in your gut, these are the ones we don’t want to feed. These bad bugs can make your food’s transit time too fast or too slow. A diet low in fiber or pre and probiotics will also do the same thing, so making sure you get the good bugs from probiotics and fermented foods are important too.
However, if you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) you will need to approach this in a specific manner as you have bugs in your small intestine that are normally only found in your large intestine or colon, and feeding them will create more gas, bloating and pain in your small intestine.
So, What are the Signs & Symptoms of Disrupted Digestion?
Belching - Bloating - Gas - Gurgling sounds – Stomach pain -Diarrhea - Constipation – Foul-smelling stools and basically, any elimination other than “ideal.”
Unfortunately, once your symptoms of poor digestion become obvious, your microbiome (the healthy bacteria and bugs in your gut) have probably become disturbed or “out of balance”. So adding in some herbs to reduce the bad bacteria and bugs and then later adding-in, or re-seeding with some good bugs (pre and probiotics) becomes imperative to regaining your healthy gut function.
Many times in an autoimmune condition improving your digestion, gut health and function are the first places to start. Additionally, improving your digestion and gut health are a way to avoid triggering the future development of an autoimmune condition.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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